The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending December 24, 2021, closed at 5,651.82 for the 25 companies in the RDWI. The Index was up 2.42% (or 133.72 basis points) from the week ending December 17, 2021. The stock of 20 RDWI members gained value from 0.01% (Johnson & Johnson) to 3.66% (Alphabet/Google). The stock of five RDWI members lost value from -0.04% (Roche Holdings) to -7.14% (Oracle).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week stated that 73% of all new coronavirus cases for the week ending December 18 in the U.S. are caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the disease. In many parts of the U.S., the Omicron variant now makes up more than 90% of the cases. The Omicron variant is now causing COVID-19 cases to double every 1.5 to 3 days in places with community transmission, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO). While there are significantly more infections, three research studies at the Imperial College London, England; University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa, have found that Omicron infections more often result in mild illnesses than earlier coronavirus variants and may not even require hospitalization in many cases.
The heated debate over the future of Web 3.0 or Web3, continues to increase with various proponents, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs wading into the controversy. Web3 is loosely defined as a still conceptual decentralized internet using technologies such as block chain to disperse the current corporate control, including data ownership, over the web.
RDW Index member AstraZeneca, Cambridge, U.K., last week announced a partnership with G42 Healthcare — a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s, United Arab Emirates (UAE), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing business. The partnership will look to explore real-world evidence and conduct clinical trials through G42’s Insights Research Organization & Solutions (IROS). The agreement will involve having the organizations explore genomic studies and comprehensive clinical diagnostic services through G42 Healthcare’s Biogenix Labs. IROS is a first-of-its-kind Contract Research Organization (CRO) in the UAE which specializes in supporting clinical trials in healthcare research.
The University of Illinois (UI) system and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently awarded funding to four interdisciplinary research teams to drive innovation and collaboration between the universities. These awards are the second round of a joint research and innovation grant program that began in 2019. The newly funded projects will focus on developing therapeutics for preventing and curing infectious diseases while reducing antibiotic resistance. The projects will also look to identify strategies to prevent chronic tissue injuries to improve cell therapy, along with various food and agricultural technologies.
Moderna, Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced last week that a third dose of its Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved COVID-19 vaccine increased immune responses against the Omicron coronavirus variant compared to just the initial two dose regimen in lab tests. These results are expected to reinforce calls by public-health officials for vaccinated people to get booster shots. Only about 30% of vaccinated U.S. people have currently received booster shots, according to the CDC. These results are similar to results obtained from booster shots for the Pfizer/BioNTech SE vaccines.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week raised the automotive fuel efficiency standards for passenger cars and trucks. Automakers must now meet a fleetwide average of 55 mpg (miles per gallon) for the 2026 model year, up from the 43 mpg set by the Trump administration for 2026. The current fleetwide average for 2021 is 40 mpg. In response, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation stated that it would be difficult for automakers and suppliers to meet these new standards without federal support to help the automotive industry transition to electric vehicles (EVs). The new standards take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Registry.
The U.S. FDA last week approved use of a COVID-19 pill developed by RDW member Merck & Co, Kenilworth, New Jersey, and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, Miami. This pill is designed to be taken by COVID-19 infected people to keep them out of the hospital. The drug, molnupiravir, would be prescribed to adults at high risk of severe disease shortly after they develop mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. The FDA recommended use of molnupiravir only if other authorized drugs are not available and medically appropriate.
China’s ministry in charge of technology last week suspended a cybersecurity partnership with RDW member Alibaba’s cloud-computing unit, Hangzhou, China, for failing to report its Log4j2 software flaw to Beijing in a timely fashion. The software flaw, a free bit of code that logs activity in computer networks and applications was made public in December and is being exploited by hackers in attempts to gain access to corporate and government computer systems. U.S. officials said that hundreds of millions of devices were at risk and notified federal agencies to mitigate the threat by December 24.
Gilead Sciences, Foster City, California, announced last week that its drug, remdesivir, significantly reduced hospitalizations in a study of people recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and at high risk of developing a severe illness. The drug is currently used to treat people who are hospitalized with COVID-19, but it is not currently approved to people with less severe cases who are recovering at home.
Novavax, Gaithersburg, Maryland, said last week that its two dose COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated strong immune responses against the virus’s Omicron variant and other strains of the virus as well. The company added that a booster shot of their vaccine was warranted due to a low initial effectiveness. Novavax stated that it could begin manufacturing its Omicron-specific vaccine in early January 2022. The Novavax vaccine was approved last week by the European Medicines Agency. The company has yet to seek FDA approval.
The Biden administration last week announced that it was preparing to disburse 500 million free at-home COVID-19 testing kits to Americans and that it will also deploy military doctors and nurses to overburdened hospitals this winter, especially as the Omicron variant of the disease becomes more prevalent.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2019 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies) and ICT (9 companies) who invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spent in the world by government, industries and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ, NYSE and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index.